Friday, June 23, 2006

Is Bill Murray The Funniest Man In Movie History?

I know I haven't really thought this one through. Please consider it a work-in-progress. I really am posing it as a question. Here are the movies from that Bravo list that feature the more famous of Bill Murray's roles:

76 Ghostbusters
43 What About Bob?
34 Rushmore
32 Groundhog Day
18 Stripes
2 Caddyshack

Of course, in a smaller role, he absolutely stole the show in #67 Kingpin. And, he was also Dustin Hoffman's roomate in #82 Tootsie.

I remember *loving* the movie Meatballs when I was kid, but it's been decades since I've seen it. One I would say is VERY underrated is Quick Change, which he co-directed as well as starred in as a NYC-hating bankrobber in clown make-up. He was great almost beyond description as the low-rent, neckbrace-wearing lawyer in Wild Things, providing some much needed comic relief to that tawdry affair.

Then, of course, there are his more recent, quirky roles: The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), Lost in Translation (2003 - nomination for Academy Award for Best Actor), and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004).

Thoughts, anyone?


Blogger Rob said...

Bill Murray may well be the funniest man in movie history. Competition: Steve Martin, Peter Selllers, Groucho Marx... I dunno, who else?

11:23 AM, June 23, 2006  
Blogger haahnster said...

Those are good choices as well. Groucho Marx specifically draws into stark relief the lack of old movies on that Bravo list. I'll have to ponder this some more.

Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, Jim Carrey, and Ben Stiller have all been in several hilarious movies. Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn are coming on strong. Hmmmmm...

11:32 AM, June 23, 2006  
Blogger Rob said...

Also, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton would both have to be on there. I've laughed at each of them, but I don't really have enough film history to know a whole lot about either...

12:50 PM, June 23, 2006  
Blogger Beth said...

My vote's for Bill Murray. You have to also consider his "SLN" days and his Letterman appearances. I love Steve Martin, but he's hit or miss these days, especially since he's currently focused on remaking every Disney family flick. I love Peter Sellers, Groucho, and the others you've listed ... but Bill's closer to my generation. Just watching him walk on stage makes me laugh.

1:58 PM, June 23, 2006  
Blogger haahnster said...

He's funny in almost any setting imaginable. I remember him being on TV during a Cubs game one time, reading the starting line-ups. He went through a hilarious, ad-libbed rundown on the opposing line-up ("_____" leading off--he can't hit, "_______" batting 2nd, we'll just throw it right down the middle when he's up..., etc.).

But, that said, taking his SNL skits and talk show appearances, etc. into account would reframe the topic as just "funniest man in history" as opposed to "funniest man in *movie* history".

After all, Steve Martin had some killer SNL hosting appearances...he was practically a "featured player" if not cast member, he was on so often. Plus, he did stand-up. Same for Robin Williams--great stand-up. There are also some hilarious writers (Al Franken just came to mind). It's a can of worms, so to speak.

In any event, I appreciate your enthusiastic support for Bill Murray. I think I'm right there with you.

2:51 PM, June 23, 2006  
Blogger Keith Kennedy said...

These are all great comments and have much merit. But the truth of the matter is that no one here has mentioned John Belushi, who, at the time of this writing, is still the funniest guy ever.

Peter Sellers was very funny but he was such a prick it's hard to give him the golden banana.

You can have Jim Carrey. I'll take Will Ferrell, though.

But never ever forget another dead guy who ranks in about 3 of my top 10 all time funny movies. His name is Gene Wilder. And if I need to explain that, then you guys just aren't paying attention.

Peace be upon you and never be afraid to laugh until you pee.

P.S. Pot still helps.

4:03 PM, June 23, 2006  
Blogger JM said...

I go back to the question of "in movies?" and have to say that Murray is it for me. I love everyone mentioned and could add a few guys as well, Gene Wilder, , for instance but consistently I rely on Murray for a great laugh in a movie. Your list is proof positive for me.

4:05 PM, June 23, 2006  
Blogger haahnster said...

Keith and JM both mention Gene Wilder. Remember Gene's movies with Richard Pryor? I see Silver Streak made Bravo's list (#84). But, Stir Crazy did not...I loved that movie on HBO as a kid in the early '80s.

Richard Pryor's movies were hit and miss, but his stand-up was as good as it ever got.

I think I'm sticking with Bill Murray for movies. Now, had Belushi lived (and been able to function), then it might have been another story. Harold Ramis has said he wrote the lead part in Ghostbusters for Belushi. So, in some 'alternate universe', Belushi was in that role instead of Murray...interesting hypothetical. Probably much more physical(?) Of course, as with all his roles, Bill Murray ad-libbed some of the biggest laughs in that film. Of course, Belushi was Second City improv-trained as well. One to ponder...

4:58 PM, June 23, 2006  
Blogger Beth said...

Gene Wilder's still alive, isn't he?

Y'all bring up good points when it comes to non-movie stints ... but Bill still wins it for me. Will Ferrell has a shot, if he learns how to work his humor, as Bill Murray has. Bill has the timing, the look; he doesn't always go for the easiest laugh.

But then there's Rob Schneider ...

6:20 PM, June 23, 2006  
Blogger JM said...

I think all the posts still point to Murray in regards to movie but to get back to Wilder--

Yes he is still alive.

He was also in the Producers (original of course), Young Frankestein and possibly the funniest/creepiest thing ever--The Willy Wonka (No disrepect to Mr. Depp).

8:00 PM, June 23, 2006  
Blogger Rob said...

Yeah, Gene Wilder! That guy is great...

8:56 PM, June 23, 2006  
Blogger Keith Kennedy said...

Gene Wilder is dead folks. Sorry.

10:33 AM, June 26, 2006  
Blogger JM said...

I think you are wrong Keith. We was diagnosed with cancer but recovered I believe. That is according to IMDB, Yahoo movies and various other sites. I have also looked for his obit which is nowhere to be found.

He came out with a book last year as well and did a small book tour.

4:01 PM, June 26, 2006  
Blogger Macky OlĂ© said...

Don't forget The Man Who Knew Too Little! Awesome, totally underrated flick. If you haven't seen it, go pick it up at Target for $5.99 or summon the Netflix. You will not regret it.

Funniest movie star ever is definitely a tough call. Few comedians next to Murray have had the tenure or comedic exclusivesness. Has Murray every been in a truly 100% serious film? I can't name one.

My personal favorite BM moment is when he sticks his head (and neckbrace) up from behind the divider in Wild Things. Perfect conman man.

12:16 AM, June 27, 2006  
Blogger haahnster said...

That neckbraced lawyer character in Wild Things is HILARIOUS!!! His Ernie "Big Ern" McCracken character in Kingpin is over-the-top uproarious also. Regardless of whether he's the lead or in a supporting role, he's always the funniest guy in every movie he's in (that I can think of right now). Belushi probably was too. But, Murray has been doing it for such a long time now, and remains consistently excellent.

7:24 AM, June 27, 2006  
Blogger JM said...

Do not forget about Murray in What About Bob?

12:04 PM, June 27, 2006  

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